105-Year-Old Woman Says Bacon Keeps Her Alive

Should the adage be “a bit of bacon every day, keeps the doctor away”?

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Prepared bacon strips

What’s the secret to an extra-long life? For one centenarian, it just might be bacon.

A 105-year-old Texas woman, who became a widow at age 38 and worked as everything from a cotton picker to a hay baler while raising 7 kids on her own, says bacon is the secret to her longevity, the Huffington Post reports.

“I love bacon. I eat it everyday,” Pearl Cantrell told NBC affiliate KRBC when asked her secret to living so long.  “I don’t feel as old as I am. That’s all I can say,” Cantrell added.

The great-great-grandmother, who lives in central Texas and still dances – some of her favorites include country dancing, waltzing and two-stepping – celebrated her 105th birthday recently with a three-day event that included more than 200 guests. Although Cantrell retired decades ago, she kept mowing her own lawn until the age of 100, according to the West Texas Tribune  – a heart-healthy habit that probably helped keep her going as well.

(MORE: Why Won’t Bacon Go Away?)

When Oscar Mayer found out about Cantrell’s love of cured pork, they sent one of its Wienermobiles to her home with a special bacon delivery.  The bacon-lover rode “shot-bun” in the Wienermobile through her hometown of Richland Springs, Texas, ABC 7 News reported.

Despite its popularity, or perhaps because of it, bacon’s gotten a bad rap lately. A University of Zurich study published by the journal BMC Medicine in March found that processed meat was linked to a premature death. The study, which analyzed the diets of more than 440,000 people between the ages of 35 and 69, found that eating processed meats in moderation–less than 20g per day–could prevent an estimated 3% of premature deaths each year.  As The Atlantic pointed out, however, that’s equivalent to a matchbook-sized portion. An earlier study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last March found that even a single serving of processed red meat (yes, that includes bacon) increased the risk of participants dying by 20%. That study tracked over 121,000 doctors and nurses over the course of 22 years.

Cantrell was not among either study’s participants.

(MORE: Eating Red, Processed Meat Raises Your Risk of Early Death)